Maintaining quality of life

Dr. Arshia Khan’s robot, Pepper, will ensure that people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease stay independent longer.

Helping people diagnosed with mild dementia is what drives UMD Computer Science Professor Arshia Khan. She and her students are programming a robot, named Pepper, to one day serve as a personal caregiver assistant for people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia. 

Khan is interested in developing Pepper’s human-like behaviors. Through cameras and sensors, Pepper can detect a person’s facial expressions, tone of voice, and physical movements. Pepper can make eye-contact and talk. Through a wireless device that the person wears, Pepper can monitor their pulse, body temperature, balance, sleep habits, and more. Over time, Pepper learns the individual's routines and can remind them of such things as taking their pills or doing their exercises. Pepper can also alert a doctor or family member when the person’s habits or health change.

Khan wants Pepper to help people maintain their quality of life and stay independent for as long as possible. It’s Khan’s hope that people will feel a little safer knowing that Pepper is looking out for them.

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